Heeding the Times from Harry Antonides' Desk

Murder in London: A Wake-up Call?

September 26, 2005

 The greatest danger is that we fail to face up to the nature of the threat we are dealing with. What we witnessed in London on July 7 was not an aberrant act…. What we are confronting here is an evil ideology…. But is a global struggle and it is a battle of ideas, hearts and minds, both within Islam and outside it.  (Prime Minister Tony Blair, July 16, 2005) 

Britain, which genially granted refugee status to endangered newcomers and let them encourage violence, is now wondering whether good heartedness has become a form of national suicide. (Robert Fulford, National Post, September 10, 2005)

The terrorist attack on Londoners on their way to work on the morning of July 7 deeply shocked the British people. Initially, the public response was one of outrage as well as a sense of solidarity with the victims and their families. 

But this horrendous event also brought to the surface confusion and division within the British people. There is deep unease about the fact the killers were British citizens. How could they do something so evil? Is Britain not a place where many cultures live side by side and where all are welcomed and treated with respect and tolerance? 

For many it was hard to admit that their cherished multicultural ideals lay in tatters. Others saw in this event justification for their opposition to the American-led war against terrorism. They argued that the bombers were merely expression their righteous indignation about the wrong they claim is done to them by the West, especially the U.S. 

And so the soul-searching goes on, exposing deep cracks within the fabric of British society. What lies behind the London attack and the different, even conflicting ways in which the British are trying to make sense out of this event?   

A Covenant of Security?

The first thing that springs to mind is the indifference the British authorities and public have shown towards the formation of a fanatic cadre of Islamic extremists in their midst. The formative centres of these unassimilated Muslims are the mosques where firebrand imams preach a doctrine of hatred towards the British people and its institutions. 

Some of the leading radicals have not hidden their true intention. 

The Finsbury Park mosque in London has long been a centre of radicalism where its former imam Abu Hamza al-Masri openly preached violence until his arrest in April 2004. 

The Islamist British group Al-Muhajiroun (the immigrants) has publicly stated that Britain is immune from Islamist violence as long as its behaviour towards Muslims is acceptable. One of its spokesmen, Sayful Islam, said in an interview that he fully supported Osama bin Laden in the quest to achieve “the worldwide domination of Islam.” But he himself would not engage in terrorist acts in Britain. He was however not necessarily against such acts, as he explained: 

When a bomb attacks happens here, I won’t be against it, even if it kills my own children…. But it is against Islam for me to engage personally in acts of terrorism in the U.K. because I live here.  According to Islam, I have a covenant of security with the U.K., as long as they allow us Muslims to live here in peace…. If we want to engage in terrorism, we would have to leave the country. It is against Islam to do otherwise. 

Extremist Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed has called on young Muslims to join the terrorists in Iraq. While serving as the head of Al Muhajiroun, he confirmed the existence of a “covenant of security,” which according to him is rooted in Koranic teaching. He stated that this would make an attack by British Muslims unlikely. But early this year he announced that this covenant had ended because of anti-terrorist legislation, which has the result that the whole of Britain has now become Dar ul-harb, that is, a target for Muslim domination in which “the Kuffar [unbeliever] has no sanctity for their own life or property.” 

To renew this so-called covenant of security, British authorities must repeal that legislation and release those detained without trial. If this does not happen, Mohammed said that British Muslims must “join the global Islamic camp against the global crusade camp.” 

Mohammed minced no words in clarifying his intention: “The response from the Muslims will be horrendous if the British government continues in the way it treats Muslims.” He threatened that unless Western governments change course, Muslims will “give them a 9/11 day after day after day.” 

When questioned more closely, Mohammed seemed to draw back from his threat, but he still allowed himself to say that for him, “the life of an unbeliever has no value.” This is the same man who 19 years ago was given asylum in England and received public assistance. When asked how he felt about being banned from British citizenship, he replied: “I don’t want to become a citizen of hell.”(He has now left Britain, and will not be allowed back in the country.) 

A Blind Generosity

Warnings against the easy-going attitude of the British authorities have also come from Muslim writers close to the terrorist training grounds. Al-Rahman Al Rashed, a Muslim who manages a Dubai-based news channel, has for ten years warned Britain that its policies of making known terrorists feel at home is absurd. He explained that this  blind generosity” has enabled advocates of fascism in that country to establish mosques and schools where young people are poisoned by a fanatic zeal that drove the killers on July 7. Three of them were British-born, all were British citizens. 

Khaled Ahmed, columnist with the Pakistani Friday Times newsweekly has been a harsh critic of radical Islamists in that part of the world. He also warned the British that the Muslim community in the U.K. has the potential to breed extremism here as well as in Pakistan. In a recent interview he said: “ In the U.K. and even in the U.S. – and in Canada too – you have to listen more carefully to what is being said inside the mosque.”   

A joint Home Office and Foreign Office dossier prepared last year said that Britain may now be harboring as many as 16,000 potential terrorists and supporters of al-Qaeda. Counter terrorism officials estimate that as many as 600 of them have trained in camps run by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere. 

Even after the July 7 attack, some Muslim spokespeople continued their anti-British rhetoric.  Abu Abdullah, a preacher and leader of the radical group Supporters of Sharia, criticized Prime Minister Tony Blair for saying that the attack in London was the work of Islamic terrorists. 

Abdullah also said that those who re-elected Mr. Blair “have blood on their hands” because British soldiers are killing Muslims. He even raised the preposterous suggestion that the British government was behind the bombings because they “want to go on with their fight against Islam.” 

Many more such overt threats are now part of the public record and available to all who want to know. In addition, recent polls among British Muslims have confirmed that a large number of them feel no attachment to Britain, and that six per cent (of an estimated 1.6 million Muslims) believe that the July 7 terrorists were justified. 

These opinions and findings are the fruit of a “liberal” mindset that has elevated multiculturalism to a new principle of enlightened government. Consequently, authorities have refused requests from the U.S., France, Spain, and Morocco to extradite some well-known terrorists. The British highest court overturned legislation passed after 9/11 that would have allowed indefinite detention of terrorism suspects, as a violation of human rights law. 

Early this year Parliament considered a bill that would have allowed tough controls on terror suspects – house arrests, curfews, and electronic tagging. It was stalled because some members objected that it would erode civil liberties. One member of the House of Commons said that this bill “is liable to create further trouble and dissension among those whom we are seeking to control – the terrorists.” 

A more telling statement about a fanatic refusal to face reality by British lawmakers must be hard to find. If you want to know what is the real problem in Britain today, here is a powerful clue. 

Signs of Change

Yet, there are some signs of change in that more have begun to speak out in Britain about the need to stand up to those Islamist leaders who systematically abuse their authority with deadly consequences. (Most encouraging is the fact that more moderate Muslims have begun to condemn those who in the name of Allah spread hatred and death.) 

Ann Cryer, Labour Member of the British Parliament, wrote that there is a glimmer of hope that it is now possible for taboo topics to be discussed in the U.K. She said that “the teaching of a perverse interpretation in some of Britain’s Muslim communities – which fuels hatred, describes non-believers as “infidels” and breeds suicide bombers – is absolutely unacceptable.” 

On this score, Prime Minister Tony Blair has been clear, and he has not been afraid to name the enemy: Islamic teachers and leaders who stoke the fires of hatred and violence. In a speech shortly after the attack of July 7, he said: 

The roots of this ideology are rooted in the madrasses in Pakistan, in the extreme forms of Wahabi doctrine in Saudi Arabia, in the former training camps of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, in the cauldron of Chechnya, in the extremist minority that now preach hatred in every European city of the West.  This is what we are up against. It cannot be beaten except by confronting it, symptoms and causes, head-on. Without compromise and without delusion. 

The Canadian Scene

What about the situation in Canada? Are we, notably the political authorities and other elites, prepared seriously to pursue hitherto taboo subjects, such as the presence of terrorists and their enablers in Canada, the super sensitivity of a vocal Muslim leadership that is ready to pounce on any one who disagrees with them, the prevalence of a sacrosanct multicult ideology ready to condemn those who depart from the politically correct line, an overhaul of our immigration and refugees policies? And this is only the short list. 

I am not so sure. Yes, there is more talk about the dangers, even the admission by our Minister of Public Safety, Anne McClellan, that the threats are real. She has publicly stated that our security agencies have warned that  there exists in this country those who might very well choose to do us harm.” But instead of announcing a determined action plan to expose and defeat those who might do us harm, she said that Canadians should become more “psychologically prepared” for terrorist attacks than they now are. 

The appalling truth is that our country is considered a choice hiding place for terrorists and their supporters. Our government has done plenty of talking about taking measures to protect us against attacks, but has done very little to safeguard our borders, find and expel potential terrorists and their enablers, including hate-inspiring Muslim leaders. It has dragged its feet to ban terrorist-supporting organizations, and to name the enemy that is now the major source of terrorism in the world: extremist Muslim leaders who continue to preach Jihad against the democratic West.

It appears that our government and many Canadians live with the belief that we are protected by the so-called covenant of security. It is an illusion that dovetails well with the ingrained anti-Americanism in this country. 

That covenant of security will prove to be as fraudulent for us Canadians as it was shown to be for the British when the bombs exploded in London on that awful summer morning.   

At least, England has a Prime Minister with the courage and determination to face the truth.